The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the shorts and sandals are coming out. You might think this warm, sunny weather is a stroke of good luck. But it’s actually a high pressure ridge that’s camping out for a while right above the Gulf of Alaska.
“It’s pretty much keeping all the weather systems away from Southeast Alaska,” said NOAA Meteorologist Aaron Jacobs. “There’s weather systems going up and over the ridge and going down below. So we’re kind of smacked right underneath the high, so everything’s going around us.”
Jacobs says the blocking ridge looks like it’ll stay put for another week or so, until around the end of May.
May is generally one of the driest months of the year. Some warm, dry days are not unusual. But Jacobs says the persistence of this weather is abnormal.
So far, Haines has received .21 inches of precipitation this month. The driest May in Haines was in 1996, with .14 inches. Jacobs says Haines could have the third driest May on record if there’s not much more rain.
For Skagway, this could be the driest May on record in 50 years. So far, there’s been only .18 inches of rain. That prompted the Skagway Fire Department to issue a burn ban on Tuesday. Open burning is prohibited outside the hydrant-protected area of town until further notice.
“I think both Skagway and Haines have a chance of breaking some temperature records for the month,” Jacobs said. “I think Haines has a better chance than Skagway.”
This weekend could be the time when those temperature records are broken. Jacobs says it might heat up into the 80s.
So far, the average high temperature in Haines this month is 63 degrees. That’s 5.8 degrees above normal. In Skagway, the average high has been 62.4 degrees.
Will this kind of weather continue this summer? Jacobs says there’s an 80 percent chance that Southeast Alaska will have higher than normal temperatures this summer. But in terms of precipitation, the odds of a wet, dry, or normal summer are all equal at this point.